Korean media discusses why K-pop is into sampling classical music

K-pop continues to show their interest in classical music. The craze of using classical samples started in spring this year and continues until winter.

Red Velvet, which will make a comeback on November 28th, raised fans’ expectations by revealing that they would use the sample of George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody In Blue” for the title track “Birthday” of their 8th mini album “The ReVe Festival 2022 – Birthday”.

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This is the second time Red Velvet has used classical music this year. Earlier in March, the girl group drew keen attention when introducing a song using classical music samples through the release of their 7th mini album “The ReVe Festival 2022 – Feel My Rhythm”. At that time, the sample Bach’s “Air on a G String” was borrowed in the production of Red Velvet’s title song “Feel My Rhythm” to showcase the elegant and gentle atmosphere in the girl group’s music style. 

Red Velvet

Following Red Velvet, BLACKPINK also took samples from classical music for their second full album “BORN PINK”, which was released in September. The album’s title track “Shut Down” samples Paganini’s second violin concerto “La Campanella”. The combination of BLACKPINK’s charismatic concept and the dark and heavy sound of “La Campanella” created an addictive song.

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With this album, BLACKPINK became the first K-pop girl group to reach the top of the Billboard Main Album Chart “Billboard 200”. Referring to the song “Shut Down”, Billboard commented, “The familiar classical track and hip-hop encounter to once again satisfy picky music listeners”. 

(G)I-DLE also chose to sample when releasing their 5th mini-album “I Love” in October. The title song “Nxde” borrows the melody of the aria “Habanera” from the opera “Carmen” and emphasizes the intense color of (G)I-DLE’s music.

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The attempt to combine classical music with K-pop has started since the first generation of idols. H.O.T. cited Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9  “Ode to Joy” and Mozart’s Symphony No. 25 for “Hope” and “IYAH”, respectively.  Shinhwa‘s “T.O.P” borrowed Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” and TVXQ’s “Triangle” borrowed Mozart’s Symphony No. 40.


As such, classical music has been steadily used in K-pop, but it tended to falter for a while. However, as K-pop has recently expanded globally, attention is being turned to classical music again. This is because as K-pop expands its activities into the global music market, concerns about universality to captivate fans around the world have grown.

A music official said, “The greatest advantage of classical music sampling is its popularity. Classical music is already familiar to people all over the world, so if you use it in a song, you can easily secure popularity.”


Freedom from copyright is another advantage of sampling classical music. Since copyright is only protected up to 70 years after the author’s death, most of the works of classical musicians, such as Mozart, Beethoven, and Bach, have been effectively copyrighted. An official said, “When sampling famous songs, the approval period and cost issues arise, but classical music is relatively free in this area.”

Source: Naver

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